We Must Advocate for Adoption | Sarah Stook
Adoption numbers have fallen for the past four consecutive years, just as those children being put into care has increased. A Department of Education report has shown that in the year leading up to March 2019, adoptions were at a low of 3,570, from a peak of 5,360 in 2015.
Meanwhile, the amount of children being places into care rose 4% from 2018 to 2019. Unaccompanied minors to the UK now make up 6% of looked after children, after that same year saw 5,070 arrive over the last year. That means more children are entering care, but not enough are being adopted.
Why is adoption so slow?
- Waiting Times- It takes between six months and a year for the initial assessment, which is a rough ride. As one would hope, it is an extremely rigorous process with inspections and examinations of the potential adoptee’s life and living. In her Spectator article about adoption, Prue Leith discusses how it can take to nine years for a newborn, four years for a toddler and another year for a handicapped or disabled child. You may not click with a child or something may happen regarding their birth family. Sometimes, you might not be matched with a child straight away. It’s not a simple process and there is no time limit. It’s understandable that people may get disheartened by waiting and simply choose not to continue.
- Ages of Children- A lot of parents will want shiny newborns that don’t know their birth family and are not affected by personal tragedies. That’s not to say it would be easier to get a baby- foetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects may put a strain on adopters. Potential parents may not want foster children who aren’t cute little kids, especially teenagers.
- Stigma- There’s still a huge stigma attached to adoption, though less so. Historically, people only adopted relative’s children or took kids in as wards/apprentices. Adoption to create families is a relatively recent phenomenon. People sadly think less of foster care children, thinking that they are damaged or dangerous. They’re seen as ruined and damaged goods.
- Foreign Adoption-When one thinks of foreign adoption, they imagine Madonna or Angelina Jolie jetting off to a foreign country or rich Americans heading off to meet Chinese girls abandoned in the streets. It is true, some foreign countries are easier to adopt from, hence why some go abroad as opposed to domestic.
- Cost- It is not particularly expensive to adopt in the UK, unless you’re using a private agency or adopting from abroad. Still, there will be costs such as travelling to and from social workers and having background checks done.
- IVF- IVF has mostly been expensive and unsuccessful, but more and more people are doing it and success rates are skyrocketing due to new technology. Many people, understandably, want a child that is their own flesh and blood, and those people who succeed may be less likely to look at adoption.
Why should we be so concerned?
Children’s stories such as Tracy Beaker glamorise care somewhat, but it’s not always pretty. That’s not to say that the foster system is a terrible place, considering how good most social workers and foster parents are. Even if the care is good, children are not getting proper structure. They are bounced around from place to place, not knowing one home. As the children get older, the chance of them getting adopted is extremely slim and they’re ready to age out of the system.
A child who has been in the care system is more likely to be inside a prison than in education. Over a 1/3 of 19 year old care leavers are not in education, training or employment. In the adult prison population, around a quarter have been in the care system.
72% of kids who are placed into care come from abuse or neglected households. That enough can be traumatising, especially if the child is unaware of that abuse/neglect and wants to be with their biological family. If they’re unlucky enough to get bad foster placements, then that is going to stay with them for the rest of their lives. Many will have special needs or disabilities. The care system will go to great lengths to care for these children, but they cannot look after everyone as the number of foster kids expands.
That is not to say that adoption will fix everything. It’s hard. A child just doesn’t move in with a family and have a perfect life. Existing biological children might feel upset. Physical and psychological therapy will likely be necessary. If anyone has seen the film Instant Family, then they will see a more realistic, if slightly sanitized version, of adoption. It’s not easy, not at all.
Still, we need to be promoting the bonds and kinship of family. When we talk about family, it’s not just heterosexual couples. Many types of family adopt, including same sex couples and single people. Family is not just about the blood we share with people, but the home and environment we are raised in. If a child can be taken in and loved unconditionally by good people, then they at least know how loved they are. It will not necessarily put a bandage over every problem, but it will hopefully be a start.
Family is a cornerstone of many of our readers’ ideology, as well as those who do not share our politics. We also must look at compassion for the most vulnerable in our society, which includes those in care. It is not just about looking good, it is about changing the lives of people who need our help. It is unlikely that any reader now is an adopter or will adopt in future, but raising the profile is something essential if we are to spread this issue far and wide.
If anyone is interested, please see the following links that will give you more information about foster care and adoption:
Adoption UK (Charity) – https://www.adoptionuk.org/
Gov. UK– https://www.gov.uk/child-adoption